Chrome's Next-Generation App Platform Is Already in the Dev Channel

Web apps will be able to break free of the browser, look and feel more like native apps

Chrome's Web Store has been great at getting web apps onto people's computers and making them aware that there is such a thing as a web app. But the apps themselves are hit and miss. Most of them are nothing more than a shortcut to an existing website.

Which is fine, the web by itself is great. But it is a failure to make the most of what Chrome's web app platform enables. There are some apps that do take advantage of things like local storage, offline support and so on.

The good news is that developers will soon have even more possibilities at their fingertips. Google is getting ready to introduce a greatly revamped platform for packaged apps, i.e. the "real" Chrome apps that work locally, at least in part.

Web apps will be able to do more of the things regular, native desktop apps can do. They can break free of the browser completely, work offline by default and so on. Google's I/O presentation of the new features should fill you in on the details.

Since Google I/O, the team has been working on making the platform a reality. Support for most of the features is now built into Chrome in the dev channel and enabled by default, so developers can start working with the new platform straightaway.

Some APIs are still labeled as experimental, so they may need to be enabled separately. But Google wants developers getting familiar with the new capabilities.

"Because we’re still in developer preview mode, the Chrome Web Store doesn’t yet accept uploads of these new packaged apps. We’ll enable web store support later this year, and when we flip that switch, users will be able to discover and download your apps directly from the store," Google's Mike Tsao wrote.

"In order to get started building apps, visit our developer documentation at and check out our growing list of sample applications on Github (thanks for the pull requests; keep them coming). If you’d like to reach us while you’re building apps, you can join us on the #chromium-apps Freenode IRC channel, join the chromium-apps group or report an issue," he added.

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